Combining effect estimates across cohorts and sufficient adjustment sets for collaborative research a simulation study

Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Collaborative research often combines findings across multiple, independent studies via meta-analysis. Ideally, all study estimates that contribute to the meta-analysis will be equally unbiased. Many meta-analyses require all studies to measure the same covariates. We explored whether differing minimally sufficient sets of confounders identified by a directed acyclic graph (DAG) ensures comparability of individual study estimates. Our analysis applied four statistical estimators to multiple minimally sufficient adjustment sets identified in a single DAG. Methods: We compared estimates obtained via linear, log-binomial, and logistic regression and inverse probability weighting, and data were simulated based on a previously published DAG. Results: Our results show that linear, log-binomial, and inverse probability weighting estimators generally provide the same estimate of effect for different estimands that are equally sufficient to adjust confounding bias, with modest differences in random error. In contrast, logistic regression often performed poorly, with notable differences in effect estimates obtained from unique minimally sufficient adjustment sets, and larger standard errors than other estimators. Conclusions: Our findings do not support the reliance of collaborative research on logistic regression results for meta-analyses. Use of DAGs to identify potentially differing minimally sufficient adjustment sets can allow meta-analyses without requiring the exact same covariates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-424
Number of pages4
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Collaborative research
  • Directed acyclic graph
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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